Putting our guests into Seward’s most productive halibut grounds is what we love to do at Crackerjack. It helps to know a little bit about the fish you will be catching.
The Pacific Halibut, Hippoglossus stenolepis, is a flat fish whose width is about one third of its length. Its sides are night and day different with an underside of white and topside of mottled brown. Both eyes are configured to the topside, and with this blending of camouflage it lies safely on the bottom away from predators. It spawns during the winter months in deep water and then pursues migratory patterns as it feeds on other fishes and invertebrates.
This fish can live up to 55 years and can grow to mammoth size. Anglers don’t even start to brag about them until they reach 100 lbs. They reach trophy size at 200 lbs. and start to win jackpot tournaments at 300 lbs. And the IGFA world record came in just short of a quarter of a ton at 496 lbs. There have been documented catches on commercial boats in Alaska of halibut over 600 Pounds!! They range from Santa Barbara, CA to Nome, AK and from the Gulf of Anadyr, Russia to Hokkaido, Japan.
Crackerjack Catch fact: Most halibut caught by sport anglers on charters in Alaska average around 20 – 40 lbs. About 15% of all halibut caught by anglers on the Crackerjack charter boats weigh over 80 lbs. On our Seward halibut charters, about 10% of the fish we catch are over 100.Halibut over 200 are less common. We catch only a handful that size and larger each season. We are certain that these catch rates are among the best in Alaska. Since the largest halibut are so rare and are breeding females, we encourage fishermen lucky enough to catch a real monster to release them. Survival rates are very high for released halibut.
Any halibut that comes up from a hundred feet below will be a battle that you will not soon forget. The bigger fish are very strong fish; and if you land one of greater size you ll wind up both victorious and well worn out. Who ever came up with the saying that a big halibut fights like a sheet of plywood, we suspect had not caught a big halibut.
Halibut like to frequent areas around reefs and craggy bottoms. They eat a large variety of fishes and invertebrates such as crab, and as such will be around those areas where smaller fish and crab sometimes like to hide. They can be caught in 25 to 2500 feet of water. The halibut is a flat fish with no swim bladder so they survive catch and release well.
Halibut are at a historic high point in abundance in our area. They available year-round and the only closed month is January due to the spawn. Spring and summer are the best time to fish for them. Our charter operations generally run from the months of April to October, and typically the bag limit of 2 fish per fishermen is achieved.
Fishing Technique on our Seward Halibut Charters
Halibut fishing in Alaska is relatively easy. We will supply you with everything you will need from our premium tackle. Live or Cut-bait is the most popular method and oftentimes a herring, a salmon belly, or even the tentacle of an octopus winds is our choice of bait. This often depends on where we are fishing and the time of year. When bait fishing, we use proven Mustad brand circle hooks crimped to a 30 leader of 400 pound Ande Monofilament. The hooks on these leaders are configured so that the halibut literally hooks itself. When you see your rod tip twitching up and down you will know immediately if you have one on. All it takes is steady reeling in of your line to determine if the fish is there. And if it is, you will soon know it.
Jigging is also a favorite technique for halibut. Metal and Plastic lures that resemble squid and fish are lowered to the bottom and then slowly lifted and dropped. Our choice for iron is the Yo-Zuri Hydro-metal jigs and when we fish leadhead jigs with plastic tails we use Berkley power bait tails. We also use the Youngquist tentacle jig with remarkable results. This technique can be extremely productive and when the halibut hits the lure, hang on tight.
As far as edibility goes, this fish is excellent. The flesh of halibut is firm and white, and when properly cared for, will freeze and last for many months until you consume it. Processing of your catch can be done by Captain Jack’s Seafood Locker in Seward or Prime Select Seafoods in Cordova, depending on which type of trip you are on with us.
Contact us to learn more, or make a reservation for one of our Full Day or Combination Charters and enjoy a day of halibut fishing in Alaska.